Australia’s competition watchdog today created more policy confusion around the parallel car imports debate and in doing so, contradicted previous announcements by the Minister.
The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said the public statements made by an ACCC Commissioner in Melbourne are completely at odds with the Minister’s position and have added even more confusion, rather than clarity, to the entire debate.
“The ACCC displays a lack of consistency and technical knowledge in its statements about this issue, and pity the poor consumers out there who are looking to their taxpayer-funded watchdog for any clear advice on this matter,” Mr Weber said.
“On its own website, the ACCC warns consumers about the perils of parallel imports and how limited protection is offered in these transactions*. Now it has not only back-flipped on this advice but foreshadowed a situation in which businesses can import vehicles – in complete contradiction to the Minister’s stated position.”
Mr Weber said that the Australian car industry has always embraced open and fair competition.
“Our market is already one of the most competitive in the world, with over 67 brands and more than 400 models, and this is a significant part of why vehicle affordability in Australia is at its best in 41 years,” he said.
“The ACCC is taking a perplexing and simplistic stance to what is a complex issue laden with massive financial risks and limited protection for consumers who inadvertently make a bad decision.
“The ACCC seems to think that someone can jump on the Net and make an overseas car purchase as easily as picking up a mobile phone, book or handbag.
“We doubt the technical expertise of the ACCC to declare that cars engineered and built for other markets are suitable for Australian conditions. After all, we are not talking about a CD.”
“The industry is working closely with government on striving for world’s best standards and practice on safety, emissions and autonomous vehicle technology. How does it make any sense to step backwards based around assertions as these?”
*From the ACCC website: “If the seller is based overseas, there may be practical and legal difficulties in enforcing your consumer guarantee rights against an overseas business”
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